Like two of his predecessors -- John Dahl and Christopher Nolan -- writer/director Rian Johnson specialized in crafting inventive, tightly wound crime thrillers with many a hairpin turn to keep viewers not only riveted, but trapped in a state of suspended uncertainty. Unsurprisingly, this craftsmanship did not arrive fully formed overnight, as Johnson honed his abilities from childhood on. Reportedly an avid filmmaker from the age of seven, Johnson later entered the film program at the University of Southern California, graduating in 1996. He scored his first major screen credit as the editor of Lucky McKee's May (2002), a gothic horror picture about a psychopathological young woman determined to create "the perfect friend" by dismembering the body parts of others, and reassembling them à la Frankenstein.
Johnson debuted three years later with a well-received solo outing -- the highly individualistic neo-noir Brick (2005), about a tough-as-nails high-school student who ferrets out his ex-girlfriend's killer. The picture debuted to extremely favorable reviews and respectable box office, and swept up a prize for originality at Sundance. Johnson followed it up with a sophomore outing in 2007, The Brothers Bloom -- a Mametian heist picture about two con artist brothers (Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo) who attempt to bilk an heiress (Rachel Weisz) out of a fortune.